Crystal Barrios


Bracero Oral History

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee

Guadalupe Mena Arizmendi was born on a ranch near Buenavista, Guerrero, México, on December 26, 1928; his family worked in agriculture, and he had little formal schooling; he married at age eighteen, and when he was twenty, he entered the bracero program; as a bracero he worked in California, Minnesota, and Texas, picking beets, cabbage, carrots, cotton, and potatoes.

Summary of Interview

Mr. Mena recalls growing up on a small ranch where his family worked in agriculture; he only had a few years of formal schooling, because he had to help with daily chores; at age eighteen, he married, and when he was twenty, he entered the bracero program; he details what the contracting process was like in Empalme, Sonora, México, as well as in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, and Monterrey, Nuevo León, México; additionally, he states that more than twenty-five thousand men waited to be processed in those centers every day; in Irapuato, Guanajuato, México, many fights broke out amongst the men; he also describes the medical exams they were given, how they were forced to be naked, and how their hands were inspected for calluses; moreover, he discusses what his trips to the border were like and how he crossed through Calexico, California, and El Paso, Texas; he explains how employers picked workers, and what food they received at Rio Vista, a processing center in El Paso; as a bracero he worked in California, Minnesota, and Texas picking beets, cabbage, carrots, cotton, and potatoes; furthermore, he discusses his daily work and the treatment he received from employers and foremen, which was often very poor; he states what their living quarters were like, the bad food he received in California, and how he was treated well in Minnesota; consequently, he sent money to his family every fifteen days; he goes on to explain how he brought his family to the United States in the late seventies; although he suffered many hardships, he feels good about having worked as a bracero.

Date of Interview


Length of Interview

57 pages

Tape Number

No. 1275

Transcript Number

No. 1275

Length of Transcript

20 pages

Interview Number

No. 1275

Terms of Use



Interview in Spanish.